Motorcyclists Need Special Insurance

Q: Why do I need motorcycle insurance?  
A: In Ohio, it is illegal to drive any motor vehicle without insurance or other financial responsibility (FR) proof. Since a motorcycle qualifies as a motor vehicle, you must purchase motorcycle insurance to comply with Ohio’s financial responsibility laws.

Q: But I have car insurance. Can’t car insurance also cover my motorcycle?
A: No, your motorcycle would not be insured by your private passenger automobile insurance policy. If you own both a car and a motorcycle, you’ll need to purchase both types of insurance policies so that both vehicles are covered.

Q: What are the differences between motorcycle insurance and car insurance?  
A: The insurance policies are similar.  Both types of policies provide liability coverage, which pays on your behalf for another person’s injuries or death and their property damage resulting from an accident if you were found to be at fault. Both types of policies provide the option to purchase physical damage coverage, which would provide for the repair or replacement of your motor vehicle in the event of an accident. If you finance the purchase of a motor vehicle, your lender also may require you to buy physical damage coverage.

Q: I still live at home. Am I covered under my parents’ motorcycle insurance if I drive their motorcycle?  
A: You’ll need to read the policy or ask the insurance agent or insurance company, since the answer can vary. 
Q: Do I have to wear a helmet?  
A: Ohio motor vehicle laws do require certain operators to wear a helmet when driving a motorcycle, so you should familiarize yourself with Ohio law. Information on helmet laws can be found at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles’ website: You should also check to see if your insurance company requires you to wear a helmet. 

Q: What are the minimum requirements for motorcycle insurance?  
A: For all types of motor vehicles, including motorcycles, the minimum amount of required insurance is $12,500 for bodily injury to or death of one individual in any one accident; $25,000 for bodily injury to or death of two or more individuals in any one accident; and $7,500 for injury to the property of others in any one accident. Keep in mind that accidents frequently result in damages that exceed those minimum coverage limits. If the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits are exceeded, then the at-fault driver may be personally responsible to pay the difference not covered by the automobile insurance policy.

Q: Might my motorcycle insurance my policy cover me if I ride someone else’s motorcycle?  
A: You’ll need to read your policy or ask your agent or insurance company this question since the answer and policy language can vary. Your insurance policy might not provide coverage if you ride a friend’s motorcycle or if you let a friend borrow your motorcycle.

Q: What factors are taken into account to determine my premium?  
A: Factors include the motorcycle’s engine size, its age and how often you ride. Be sure to ask your insurance agent or company if you can receive a discount for belonging to an association such as the American Motorcycle Association or for taking safety courses.

Q: Will my insurance cover any passengers on my motorcycle? 
A: Your policy’s liability coverage pays on your behalf for another person’s injuries or death from an accident if you were found to be at fault, which would include coverage for any passenger on your motorcycle who might be injured or killed in such an accident. You may also want to consider purchasing optional medical payments coverage. This coverage pays for necessary medical and funeral expenses incurred by you or your passengers due to an accident, regardless of whose fault it is.


This “Law You Can Use” column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was originally prepared by Mary Jo Hudson, former director of the Ohio Department of Insurance. It was updated by William J. Reynolds, an attorney in private practice in Cincinnati. 

Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. This article is not intended to be legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from a licensed attorney.



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